PASTORS MURDERED IN INDIA
Officials in southern India have ordered an official investigation into the recent murders of two pastors in southern India, BBC News reported. K. Isaac Raju and K. Daniel, were found dead within days of going missing in Hyderabad, capital of Andhra Pradesh state. Raju went missing on May 24. Just days earlier, on May 21, the body of pastor Daniel was found with marks suggesting he had been the victim of an acid attack, Compass Direct reported. Both men led churches on the outskirts of Hyderabad. A letter sent to a local newspaper claimed the killings were the work of an organization called the Anti-Christian Forum, Compass said. Police later questioned 150 members of Hindu nationalist organizations but at press time authorities had no suspects. The All India United Christians Movement for Equal Rights is putting pressure on the state officials to speed up its search into the pastors' deaths, New India Press reported. A reward also is being offered for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the deaths, Compass said.
PENTECOSTAL PASTOR RELEASED IN IRAN
An Islamic court has acquitted an Assemblies of God (AG) lay pastor on apostasy and proselytizing charges. During a court hearing May 28 in Bandar-i Bushehr, a judge reportedly declared he was acquitting Hamid Pourmand because he had "done nothing wrong" based on Islamic law, Compass Direct reported. Pourmand had faced execution by hanging under Muslim law for leaving Islam for Christianity 25 years ago. Despite the acquittal, the pastor remains imprisoned, serving out a three-year jail sentence for a separate military court conviction also linked to his religious conversion. Pourmand, 47, was arrested last September by the Iranian security police while attending a church conference near Tehran. An army colonel, Pourmand led an AG congregation in the southern port city of Bandar-i Bushehr.
NIGERIAN CHURCH DESTROYED IN FIRE
Arsonists recently set fi re to a church in Kaduna state, destroying the
sanctuary for the fourth time in fi ve years. Conquerors Chapel pastor
Ndubuisi Chiazor was holding an elders meeting at the church on April
10 when it was torched, Compass Direct reported. Chiazor suspects Muslim
extremists living in the area were responsible for the attack. "From the
comments we hear from Muslims in this area, we know that they have resolved
to force us out of the area through terrorist acts," he said. "We hear
them all the time say, 'You must leave this place. We shall build a mosque
on this land where your church is standing.' " The Word of Faith Ministries'
congregation has rebuilt their meeting place after each attack. Chiazor
said he is prepared to die rather than move, but many church members
have left. Word of Faith Ministries counted 500 members at the onset of
the arson attacks, but today less than 150 remain. Chiazor said the arsons
began with the introduction of Shariah law in Kaduna state in 2000.
Duke University Medical Researcher
Says Faith Is Good Medicine
Dr. Harold Koenig says the key to good health is
having a deep, personal relationship with God
Duke University researcher is changing the heart of the medical community with a
simple, yet profound message that faith is good for your health.
Dr. Harold G. Koenig has found a clear relationship between faith and health, one
that he has dubbed "the healing connection." Koenig, founder and director of the Duke University Center for the Study of Religion/Spirituality and Health in Durham, N.C., and editor-in-chief of Science & Theology News, has published 25 books and more than 200 professional journal
articles detailing his findings.
"The pile of evidence is growing and showing that spiritual faith has a very real,
scientifically measurable, and positive association with mental and physical wellbeing,"
Koenig writes in his book The Healing Connection. According to Koenig,
the key to the healing connection is "having a deep, personal relationship
with God and loving your neighbor."
"The combination of those two things, at least the research seems to show, is one of
the most powerful combinations of things that predict a person's health," he said.
Koenig has extensively studied the healing connection in the mentally and
physically ill, and in the elderly. "Our research
has found a simple behavior that
might save more lives than buckling seat
belts or quitting smoking," Koenig reported
after studying 4,000 randomly selected
people over the age of 65 in North Carolina.
"People who attend church regularly
live longer," he concluded.
After following the subjects for six
years, Koenig said he found that the likelihood
of dying during that six-year period
was 41 percent lower among those who
regularly attended religious services.
His most current research involves
chronically ill patients. In April, Koenig
and his colleagues reported in The Journal
of Nervous and Mental Disease that among
patients with sickle cell anemia, those
who go to church at least once a week
had the lowest pain scores.
Bottom line, Koenig says, is "as long
as you are here on this earth, God has a
purpose for your life. That purpose is not
sitting around just existing. That purpose
involves ministry to others. It's when people
do that, that people get healthier."
"I can speak with authority about these
issues because I experience them myself,"
stressed Koenig, who was diagnosed in his
late 20s with psoriatic inflammatory arthritis,
a progressive disease that inflames
the tendons and makes even the most ordinary
movements painful. Once athletic,
Koenig now relies on a wheelchair when the pain is heightened and must carefully
plot his every movement.
But Koenig says God is using his
background in some extraordinary ways,
giving him an open door to many secular
audiences, including the mainstream media
and some of the world's most prestigious
medical schools. To date, Koenig's
research has been featured on every major
U.S. news outlet, and has been included
in cover stories for Reader's Digest, Parade
magazine and Newsweek.
While his research has amassed international
attention, Koenig points to his life's
testimony as his most powerful witnessing
tool. While a third-year medical student,
Koenig says he experimented with a slew
of Eastern religions in an effort to overcome
shyness. But his attempts to speak
up in class became increasingly disruptive,
and he eventually was expelled.
After his expulsion, Koenig battled
mental illness as a homeless person on the
streets of San Francisco for almost four
months. Later, a devastating divorce after
2-1/2 years of marriage changed everything
for Koenig. The breakup led to a
"spiritual rebirth that brought him back
from an emotional brink."
At the age of 33, Koenig gave his life
to Christ, and he hasn't looked back since.
Today Koenig celebrates almost 19 years of
marriage with his wife, Charmin. The two
attend King's Park International Church,
a charismatic ministry in Durham.
Koenig credits God for giving him a
second chance, particularly when he was
accepted back into medical school as a
third-year student. "When I read the living
Bible, it explained just about everything
about my life to me," he said. "That helped
to organize my life and gave it direction.
Turning to Christ helped to really bring it
together; it has for almost 20 years now."
This fall, Koenig will release Simple
Health, a book he co-wrote with Today's
Christian Doctor editor David Biebel. It
explains 20 easy and inexpensive changes
people can make to improve their health.
-SUZY RICHARDSON IN GAINESVILLE, FLA.
CHRISTIAN GROUP ENDS DISNEY BOYCOTT
The American Family Association (AFA) has ended its nine-year boycott of
the Walt Disney Co., citing new challenges in the culture wars and some
positive signs of change at Disney, including the resignation of CEO Michael
Eisner. The Tupelo, Miss.-based group was instrumental in initiating
the boycott in 1996 to protest Disney's extension of benefits to domestic
partners of homosexual employees, promotion of gay-related events at
its theme parks, and violent and sex-filled content of movies made by
its Miramax subsidiary. In June, the Southern Baptist Convention announced
that it also is ending its boycott of Disney. Earlier this year, representatives
from Focus on the Family and other Christian groups that had
participated in the boycott agreed to meet with Disney to discuss its production
of C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, set to release
in December. The Orlando Sentinel reported that Disney has launched a
10-month marketing campaign to get Christian support for the film.
8-YEAR-OLD'S CHRISTIAN SONG BANNED AT TALENT SHOW
A federal judge declined to overturn a New Jersey school's ban on a
second-grader singing "Awesome God" at a talent show, but said he
would consider the case later. On May 20, Stanley Chesler declined an
emergency request to compel Frenchtown Elementary School to let Olivia
Turton sing the pop song by the late Rich Mullins at Frenchtown Idol,
which was held that night, the Associated Press (AP) reported. School
officials claimed that such a performance would be inappropriate at a school
event. A lawsuit filed May 27 on behalf of the 8-year-old claimed the
school violated her constitutional rights. The suit, brought with the support
of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a Christian legal advocacy group
based in Scottsdale, Ariz., argued that the constitutional separation of
church and state does not restrict an individual's religious speech.
CHRISTIAN ATTORNEYS APPLAUD SUPREME COURT DECISION
Religious liberty attorneys are applauding a June 1 Supreme Court decision
that upheld the constitutionality of a federal law requiring prisons
to accommodate inmates' religious beliefs, AgapePress reported. Cutter
v. Wilkinson involved two Ohio prison inmates-a witch and a Satanist-
who claimed they were improperly denied access to religious literature
and other ceremonial religious items. The high court overturned a lower
court ruling that a 2000 law called the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
Persons Act prohibited the access because it would violate
the separation of church and state, the news service said. Attorney Brian
Fahling of the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy said
the decision will benefit Christians, "but the oddity about this, again, is
the fact that we have religious freedom being protected through the
agency of a Satanist and a witch." Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute
called the decision "an outstanding victory for prison ministries and
people of faith," and he expected it to enhance his group's work.
Minister Translates Bible Into Remote Languages
Syvelle Phillips has spent the last 30 years working to make
the Scriptures available in every language
In an effort to make the gospel accessible to the more than 500 million
people who don't have a Bible in their mother tongue, a former
Assemblies of God pastor has taken up the task of translating the Scriptures into
little-known languages spoken in remote regions around the world.
During the early 1970s, while he was pastoring an Assemblies of God church in
Southern California, Syvelle Phillips says he felt God calling him to translate the
Bible. Through relationships with church members who worked for Wycliff e Bible
Translators, Phillips learned the importance of their unique ministry.
"I had never been aware of the need for
Bible translation," Phillips said. "I thought
the entire world had the King James Bible,
and it was good enough for everyone."
After much prayer and research, Phillips
founded Evangel Bible Translators,
which is based in Rockwall, Texas. Since
1976, he and his team have devoted millions
of hours to studying and recording
the nearly 7,000 languages spoken
worldwide. "When I said goodbye to
my church, I had no missionaries and no
money," Phillips said, "but I attacked the
project with great zeal, and there was tremendous
More than 30 translators and their
families, located primarily in Africa and
India, currently direct Evangel projects.
Most work in their native countries. They
receive both biblical and linguistic training
before journeying to the mission field, and
they are equipped with laptop computers
to aid in their translation work.
"One of our first translators was a
Quechua Indian who took up a project
Wycliff e had abandoned and returned to
his native people," Phillips said. "After we
trained him, he completed an entire Bible
before he was killed by guerillas in Peru."
Evangel also encourages missionaries
to plant local churches and lead the
congregations in worship and Bible study.
"I'm highly committed to the church,"
he said. "I tell our people when Sunday
comes to get their guitars, go sing and tell
someone about Jesus. It will be therapy for
Evangel trained 15 translators last year
and expects another 30 to complete their
preparation this year. Although the ministry
is grateful for the increased interest,
the growing demand also requires more
financial resources. To fund these needs,
the 76-year-old Phillips preaches more
than 200 times annually in local churches
and at conferences.
"God called me from the start to challenge
the charismatic, Full Gospel churches
into involvement with Bible translation,"
he said. "He began us at a point we
could comprehend and moved us into
an area we had never known. We've seen
God raise up our mother-tongue speakers
and connect us with them."
IN ROCKWALL, TEXAS
Couple Reach At-Risk Youth in Hollywood
Through their Oasis of Hollywood outreach, Ron and Judy
Radachy are sharing the love of Jesus with needy families
Nestled in Hollywood's inner
city, a Christian outreach
and drop-in center is shining
a different kind of light in a
city filled with stars.
Oasis of Hollywood, founded in its
current location by pastors Ron and
Judy Radachy in 1993, is located a half
dozen blocks away from the famous Walk
of Fame sidewalk and the Kodak Theater,
site of the Academy Awards and the
crowning episodes of American Idol.
But within another 10 minutes' walk is
Santa Monica and Highland, a haven for
male, female or transsexual prostitutes of
almost any age and drugs of all kinds. Two
blocks farther is Panpipes Magickal Marketplace,
a supermarket for occult shoppers
and spiritual home to local Satanists.
"This is a very oppressive area," Ron
Radachy said. "It's like someone handed
you a 10-pound weight to carry around
and you carry it easily for a while, but
then it starts to wear you down. There's
obviously a spiritual influence on the
Judy Radachy recounts the details of
their ministry in her book, Walk of Faith
on the Walk of Fame. Included in its short
chapters are accounts of their Jesus Night
Patrol, a fistfight at the center's front door
and a 9-year-old who overdosed on drugs
during a suicide attempt.
But the most poignant moment in the
book-and perhaps in Judy Radachy's
life-came in 1982. Three years after she
and husband Charles McPheeters arrived
in Hollywood, he suddenly died, leaving
her with two young children and a leaderless
ministry. A talented speaker and musician,
McPheeters had found Christ after a
nearly fatal drug overdose and became one
of the best-known ministers and anti-drug
advocates of the 1970s' Jesus Revolution.
After Charles' death, Judy Radachy's
family wanted her to move home to Texas.
"Charles was the source of all my financial
support, and I just couldn't see how I could
go on," she said. "I opened my Bible and
out popped Joshua 1: 'Moses my servant is
dead. Now arise and take his place.'"
She started another nearby drop in
center for teens and continued their
House of Magdalene, a residential facility
for local street prostitutes. During a midnight
outreach to nearby Pasadena Rose
Parade revelers four years later, she met the
Rev. Ron Radachy. Both now licensed
Foursquare ministers, the two married in
1986 and six years later made an offer on
their current facility, $300,000 below an
already reduced price.
In an area where few outreach ministries
survive, Oasis has flourished. Reaching
gangbangers, prostitutes, homeless
alcoholics, single moms and "good" kids
with abusive parents, the center offers after-
school programs, tutoring, emergency
food and shelter for families, and a Sunday
evening youth service.
Yet the Radachys believe their most
vital program is the Urban School of
Evangelism, a one-week mission trip for
youth and college-age groups from across
the nation. They stay in the center and
minister in Hollywood streets, on skid
row and on the Santa Monica beach.
"Both of our hearts are not just in
sitting in a pew in a blessing club," Judy
Radachy said. "But a world where God
is real and people see it because we meet
them where they are."
-ED DONNALLY IN HOLLYWOOD
Hundreds Convene for Reconciliation Meeting Aimed at Praying for Europe
Organizers believe God is positioning the church for' a new Europe'
by restoring the continent's' apostolic and prophetic foundations'
A Channel Islander-whose homeland was the only part
of the British Isles to be occupied by Nazi forces-found
himself praying with a German. He conferred a "blessing" on a nation that his own
people had despised as a wartime enemy.
That was just one of the moving scenes at Target Europe-a recent event that drew
nearly 400 people from 20 nations to the strategic naval port of Portsmouth, England.
"The last thing I expected was to be praying with a German church leader," said attendee
Ray Tostevin, who was born on Guernsey.
Now an idyllic island retreat, Guernsey
once was part of Hitler's frontier. Back
in the 1940s, swastikas were draped from
civic buildings, Jewish businesses had to
display a yellow notice and listening to
the BBC on a clandestine radio set was
punishable by imprisonment.
"My father and grandparents lived
through fi ve years of that," Tostevin explained.
"My father might be forgiven for
feeling a sense of harshness toward the
German people. Far from it.
"It's a real irony that, 60 years on, my
father recently found himself in a German
hospital being operated on for a serious
spinal condition by a German surgeon.
The operation was a complete success."
Tostevin, who runs an independent
TV company called GRACE Productions,
said he participated in the event because
he wanted to express his thanks for
the way German people cared for his father.
He ended up praying with Michael
Schiff man, a leading German pastor.
"I didn't realize who this guy was-
only that his lapel badge said he was from
Germany," Tostevin said. "I prayed that God
would bless the German people, thanking
Michael, as their representative, for the
kindness they'd shown toward my dad."
Tostevin's personal story summed up the
Target Europe event-which was officially
opened by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth
Jason Fazakerley. Uniting former enemies
and praying blessings on one another's nations
was high on the agenda at this conference.
"This event is for those following
the Spirit," said speaker and writer Roger
Mitchell, who was one of the key facilitators
for Target Europe, "as He positions the
church for a new Europe."
Delegates packed out a meeting suite
overlooking the English Channel, a narrow
stretch of water that separates Great
Britain from the rest of Europe. But people
were also crossing more symbolic gulfs as
they prayed and worshiped together.
The event was jointly hosted by a
French mission group called Cibler
L'Europe, which is translated Target Europe,
and an English network dubbed
Building Together. The aim was to play
their part in "restoring the apostolic and
prophetic foundations of our continent."
That included praying for reconciliation
between Europe and Africa-and
sending a representative group to attend
the Make Poverty History protest event
that happened to be under way at the
same time in central London.
Among the intercessors at Portsmouth
were Dutch intercessory leader Pieter
Bos, national coordinator for Holland's
City Prayer Movements; and Martin
Scott, author of Gaining Ground, which
discusses prophetic intercession. "We
lift up the cross this day into the very
heavens above," Scott cried out, "and we
thank You that the cross speaks of justice.
It speaks for an end-and it speaks for a
Mitchell described the effort as "a kind
of rallying cry-not an organization." The
initiative had resulted from various groups
and networks working together. "I see
some incredibly exciting new expressions
of the body of Christ happening across
Europe, with the help of the faith of Africa,
South America and Asia," he said. "I see
seeds that make me incredibly hopeful."
In particular, he believes the spiritual
landscape of France has been changing, an
observation other Christian leaders have
been making recently.
"There is a lot of encouragement in
France now, but we sense that the Lord
is making a shift," said French Christian
leader Samuel Rhein, another Target Europe
facilitator. "There's a lot of disappointment
at the same time because it's
not the breakthrough that we were waiting
for. But still we see a lot of changes."
Rhein cited one example as the fact
that he had brought 70 French people to
the conference. "That's a major thing," he
said with a smile. "I thought I was the
only Frenchman in love with England."
CLIVE PRICE IN PORTSMOUTH, ENGLAND
C H A R L E S CO L S O N 'S H O C K E D ' BY
D E E P T H R OAT R E V E L AT I O N
Prison Fellowship founder Charles Colson said he was "shocked" to
discover that W. Mark Felt, 91, former deputy director of
the FBI, was the notorious informant who helped expose
the Watergate scandal. In a statement on his ministry's
Web site, the former senior Nixon adviser said he knew
Felt well and considered him trustworthy. "No matter
how Felt may justify his actions, it is not honorable to leak
classified information to the press," Colson said of the man
who became known as Deep Throat. Ironically, the crime that led to Colson's
seven-month imprisonment was leaking a secret FBI report to the media.
He believes going to prison was good for him, and he said he realizes that
the end doesn't justify the means. That's why he says Felt is no hero. "I am
disappointed in Mark for choosing the media as the way to expose the corruption," Colson said. "If he felt that the wrongs of the Nixon administration
had to be remedied, he should have walked into the FBI director's office and
told him so, and if necessary walked in to the president."
JUDGE OFFERS OFFENDERS 'WORSHIP SER VICES' OPTION INSTEAD OF JAIL
A Kentucky judge has been offering
some drug and alcohol off enders the option of going to God's house
instead of going to the "Big House" or rehab. District Judge Michael Caperton,
50, a devout Christian, believes church attendance could help some of
those convicted find spiritual guidance, the Associated Press reported. But
critics say the practice violates the separation of church and state. "The goal
is to help people and their families," said Caperton, who requires defendants
who choose the church option to get a signed affi davit from a pastor
or spiritual leader after attending 10 services. "I don't think there's a churchstate
issue because it's not mandatory and I say worship services instead of
church." A district judge since 1994, Caperton has offered the option about
50 times to repeat drug and alcohol off enders in Laurel and Knox counties
since early spring.
PASTO RS MEET WITH WH I T E H O U S E TO D I S C U S S
A F R I C A I N I T I AT I V E
More than two dozen African-American ministers met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and senior White House offi cials in May to discuss how the faith-based initiative could be expanded to fight AIDS in Africa and care for orphaned children, the Los Angeles Times reported. Attendees at the private meeting included Bishop T.D. Jakes, Bishop Eddie Long, Bishop Charles Blake, the Rev. Eugene Rivers, the Rev. Frank Reid and pastor Donnie McClurkin, as well as civil rights veteran Andrew Young and the Rev. William Shaw, president of the National Baptist Convention. Observers say the meeting was an attempt to
woo African-American voters to the Republican Party by expanding black
church participation in the faith-based initiative. The meeting was held the
same day as a Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) summit with 200 black
clergy. Some saw the timing as an attempt to upstage the CBC's eff ort to
strengthen ties between Democrats and religious leaders. Several of the
delegates at the Rice meeting also attended the CBC event.
PASTOR PLANS TO RETURN TO PULPIT AFTER
An Arlington, Texas, pastor is expected
to return to the pulpit of his church after his
June release from a second drug-treatment facility.
Charged in March with drug possession
and sexually assaulting three church members,
Bishop Terry Hornbuckle was reinstated as pastor
of Agape Christian Fellowship in April after
a six-week suspension, the Fort Worth Star Telegram
reported. After being rearrested in May for
failing to pass a drug test, Hornbuckle checked
himself into a drug-treatment facility May 16.
On June 1 he checked himself into another "after-
care" center, his attorney, Mike Heiskell, told
the newspaper. Hornbuckle maintains his innocence
and says he is a victim of extortion. His
wife, Renee, has been leading the church since
his arrest and suspension.
M I N N E S O TA C H U R C H H I R E S T R A N S -
G E N D E R M I N I S T E R .
A Minneapolis church has hired a minister who had surgery to change
sexes from a woman to a man, the Associated
Press (AP) reported. The Rev. Malcolm Himschoot,
27, is to serve as an outreach minister
at 1,800-member Plymouth Congregational
Church. Himschoot, who is married to a woman,
is the subject of a documentary titled Call Me
Malcolm, which was produced by the United
Church of Christ, the denomination that ordained
Himschoot, the AP said.
RONALD WINANS DIES. Gospel recording artist
Ronald Winans died June 17 of heart complications.
He was 48. The second oldest of 10 siblings,
Winans was part of the fi ve-time Grammy-
winning quartet The Winans and a member
of a famed musical family. He had suffered a
massive heart attack in 1997, but experienced
a miraculous recovery. In recent weeks, he had been admitted to a Detroit
hospital for observation because he was
retaining an unusual amount of fluid, the family
said. In addition to recording with his brothers,
Winans released solo projects, the most recent
of which, Ron Winans Family & Friends V: A Celebration,
came out in January. A musical tribute
was to be held June 23 at Perfecting Church in
Detroit. Funeral services were to be held June
24 at Straight Gate Church, also in Detroit.